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  • 07.29.13

    AMIC Applauds USPSTF Recommendation for High Risk Lung Cancer Patients

    AMIC Urges CMS to Expand Coverage of LDCT for High-Risk Patient Population

     

    The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) today applauded the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for recommending annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for individuals between the ages of 55 and 80 who are at high risk for lung cancer.

    The USPSTF gave a B grade for LDCT screening, meaning the Task Force recommends that providers “offer or provide this service.”

    “AMIC is pleased that USPSTF has taken steps to reduce the devastatingly high
    mortality rates associated with lung cancer by recommending annual LDCT imaging for individuals at high-risk of developing lung cancer,” said Tim Trysla,
    executive director of AMIC. “Early detection of lung cancer has proven to save lives. Access to diagnostic tools like LDCT is critical for patients at high risk for a disease where early diagnosis is essential to treatment and survival. AMIC urges CMS to consider the USPSTF grade and ensure that those Medicare beneficiaries who are at-risk have access to this life-saving imaging service.”

    The USPSTF recommendation applies to individuals 55 to 80 years of age who have a 30 pack year or greater history of smoking, and who are either current smokers or have quit in the past 15 years. The draft recommendation is based in part on the landmark National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) study, conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), which found that LDCT imaging significantly reduced lung cancer deaths among current and former smokers aged 55 to 74 years and has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives. This February, a study based on the NLST data was published in the journal Cancer, which concluded that LDCT imaging of high-risk individuals has the potential to prevent 12,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, an actuarial cost-benefit analysis by Milliman, Inc. published in the April 2012 issue of Health Affairs found that LDCT for individuals at high-risk for lung cancer would save thousands of lives at a relatively low cost if the procedure were routinely covered by commercial insurers.

    Recently, a new analysis of the NLST data indicated that LDCT for patients at high risk for lung cancer is also a cost effective diagnostic tool. The American College of Radiology subsequently stated that it will use these new findings in the ongoing creation of practice guidelines for the use of LDCT for lung cancer (slated for spring 2014), the development of appropriateness criteria and to address staffing and care models needed to support these guidelines.

    The
    National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the American Association for
    Thoracic Surgery (AATS), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) have all endorsed LDCT for high-risk individuals, along with private payers including WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates and Anthem affiliates, which now include the scans as a covered benefit. Furthermore, federal agencies including the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Energy (DoE) have begun phased implementation of LDCT.

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the United States, accounting for 160,000 deaths every year, and it has a devastatingly low survival rate when not detected early. Because symptoms of the disease do not typically manifest until it has advanced aggressively, it is important for individuals at high-risk to receive this diagnostic test so there is time to receive effective treatment.

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    The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition represents physicians, medical providers, and patient organizations throughout the U.S. It also includes health technology firms that manufacture imaging equipment and supplies and that employ tens of thousands of workers. Thus, AMIC represents those who develop medical imaging technologies, those who apply it, and those who benefit from it.

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